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Should I date people who I disagree with politically? How early should I venture into that topic and what should I consider a deal breaker?
— Love Candidate
Howdy Love Candidate,
When he turned 18, I badgered my boyfriend to register to vote. One day, his sister informed me that he considered himself a Republican. I’d been sleeping with a Republican. For years. His personality definitely didn’t line up with the political attributes I align with Republicans (I mean, besides being a middle-class white dude). He was actively not racist or homophobic, certainly never had any qualms with me wearing the pants — and the socks and the shoes — in our relationship and was just generally a kind, compassionate person. His sister explained that he was voting the way his wealthy grandfather voted. I quietly gave up my campaign to get him registered to vote.
By the time Obama ran for office, he was back on the right side of my politics. But I don’t think I could find myself in that position today. I was young and politics weren’t as divisive then. Now, I simply can’t see myself with anyone who would cast their vote for a party that doesn’t recognize my humanity. I am a woman in the time of #metoo and the major push to defund Planned Parenthood. I am a black person who has to remind this country my life matters, and I’m the daughter of an immigrant. I’m a freelance writer who shells out hundreds of dollars every month for subpar healthcare and pay an exorbitant amount of money in taxes to state and federal governments that are not implementing policies that benefit me or other marginalized individuals.
It’s hard to get hot and bothered for someone when I resent the fuck out of them because of their politics. As someone who almost exclusively dates cishet men, I feel like it’s a pretty low bar for me to set, to insist that if they want to be with me, they aren’t rocking any MAGA gear. I already know I’m probably going to have to do a little schooling around misogyny and make sure they’re thoroughly vetted before bringing them around any of my LGBTQ friends and family. I also don’t want to be the black woman validating any of their nonsense views — I’m not your black (girl) friend, bro. They’re also not trotting me out as an example of a “good” black person. I’m not in a place where I have the luxury of making anyone with hateful views feel comfortable around me because I’m trying to hook-up. I’d rather go without. Thank you very much.
I’m not the only one who feels this way. There were some news stories earlier this year about how conservatives are finding dating difficult because all of us liberal types refuse to hook up with them. As far as when to bring up politics when dating someone new, I feel like I get it out of the way early on. In general, there are usually some tells in a person’s dating profile about which way they’re leaning politically. Louisville is also small, so there’s a good chance I’ll have some vague notion about a person’s beliefs before we even get together. And really you’d be hard pressed to get through an entire evening with me without any of my political beliefs coming up, so I’m always on high alert for someone’s reactions to my fundraising for UofL’s LGBT Center, or when I’m talking about what a great time I had at the Planned Parenthood gala. Do they flinch when I bring up white privilege? I’m clocking all of those things.
I just think it’s really hard while you’re getting to know someone to not notice their Klan hood peeking out of their purse. But you can also be direct about it, too, either when messaging or in person: “Hey, I just want you to know I take my politics really seriously and want to make sure we’re on the same page.” I don’t think anyone would feel put out by that.
What you consider a deal breaker is up to you. But I’ve got a long list of what I’m not about. Basically, if you’re down for snatching rights away from any group, I can’t get down with you. If someone has a loosely held belief that can be resolved with open discussion, then I’ll keep ‘em around to help them grow (as I would hope someone would do for me). But if it’s something deeply rooted, there’s no “agreeing to disagree.” The only thing I’m about to agree to is you losing my number. And I live in Kentucky, so I’m really limiting my options in Bevin Country, but I’m OK with that, because at least I can sleep at night. Even if it is alone.
— Minda •